Richard Marshall interviews Quassim Cassam at 3:AM Magazine:
Quassim Cassam is interested in epistemology, conspiracy theories, terrorism and counterterrorism and medicine. Here he discusses disappearing knowledge, conspiracy theories, how we can protect knowledge from threats of erosion, epistemic vice as Obstructionism, whether epistemic vices might sometimes be ok, Trump and Brexit, the role of expertise, comparing epistemic vices to moral vices, terrorism, why much contemporary philosophy hasn’t engaged with these issues, and what difference philosophy can make regarding them.
3:AM: What made you become a philosopher?
Quassim Cassam: I studied P.P.E. (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) at Oxford. When I started, I planned to concentrate on Politics and Economics but quickly discovered that I loathed Economics. It took a while for me to become seriously interested in Philosophy but was hooked by a couple of things: reading Kant and Strawson and attending Charles Taylor’s brilliant seminars on Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia. I also remember some inspiring tutorials on Wittgenstein’s Tractatus with James Griffin, who was my main undergraduate tutor. When I graduated, I thought seriously about going to law school but decided in the end to stay on to do graduate work in Philosophy. I was lucky enough to be supervised by Strawson and even luckier to land a job teaching Philosophy at Oxford as soon as I finished my doctorate.